Adam Hadwin can rediscover his passion for desert golf.
According to OKBET, who has a number of big-priced picks for this week’s PGA Tour event, Adam Hadwin can do well in the Shriners Children’s Open.
OKBET Golf predictions: Shriners Children’s Open
- Adam Hadwin (1 point e.w.) at 60/1 (bet365 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
- Gary Woodland (1 point e.w.) at 80/1 (Sky Bet 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
- Jason Day is a 1 point e.w. at 100/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8).
- Russell Knox 1 point e.w. at 110/1 (bet365, Sky Bet 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
- James Hahn 1 point e.w. at 160/1 (bet365 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
- Kevin Yu (1 point e.w.) at 250/1 (General 1/5 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8)
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Ten Presidents Cup players help shape the market for the Shriners Children’s Open, a long-running PGA Tour event that often turns into a shootout and has produced a number of surprises over the years.
Patrick Cantlay is the favorite, having won here in 2017 in unusually difficult conditions. It appeared to be the first of many, and his tally now stands at ten, including a couple of the lowest-scoring events on the schedule and generally on the kind of bentgrass greens he’s met with here at TPC Summerlin, a course he enjoys. He’s the best player and a strong favorite.
Sungjae Im isn’t far behind, and the defending champion has, understandably, moved closer to Cantlay since the golf betting opened. He finished the 2022 season as one of the form men on the circuit, nearly stealing the FedEx Cup, and continued in that vein for the Quail Hollow Internationals. It’s difficult to find fault with these two elite golfers.
However, the superb weather forecast suggests that conditions will be ideal at this par 71, which features TPC’s standard risk-reward holes as well as resort-style, desert golf. It means we should break 20-under for the winning total, and in my opinion, this is one of the most unpredictable tournaments on the schedule, partly due to timing, depth, and the number of new players we’re still learning about, but also because it favors no one specific profile.
Driving the ball well would be my starting point, but that doesn’t always imply driving the ball far, as Kevin Na, Ryan Moore, Ben Martin, Rod Pampling, and Webb Simpson are among the last ten winners. Players must give themselves the opportunity to attack with their approach shots, whether through length or finding fairways, and unless we see a freakish putting display like that of Na, expect Ibalanced m’s display to be reflected on this year’s leaderboard as well.
Desert expert poised to shine
I certainly don’t want to get into anyone for a low price. Aaron Wise, for example, rose to prominence here, where he has spent a significant amount of time, and was one of the best golfers among those who did not win last season. Indeed, he could have earned a spot in Davis Love’s lineup, but he arrives here after a five-week break and, despite putting improvements, is far from certain to play.
Taylor Montgomery is based in Vegas and should continue to putt well, but 28/1 for a Korn Ferry Tour graduate in a field with some strength seems extremely short to me.
We’re soon down to those at 40/1 or higher, and the two who stood out the most were Cam Davis, who has a good record here and puts best on bentgrass, and Si Woo Kim, for whom the Presidents Cup could be a watershed moment.
But, a little further down the golf betting, we find ADAM HADWIN, who has a straightforwardly nice profile for the event even if you don’t believe, as I do, that he’ll be extra motivated here.
Ryan Fox declared a month ago that he had “fire in his belly” after being passed over for the Presidents Cup, and despite a knee injury, he won his second title of 2022 in record time. Mackenzie Hughes, who thought he might have been chosen, has had a fantastic start to the season, winning for the first time since 2016. Dean Burmester and Emiliano Grillo were close behind him, while Lucas Herbert came close in Italy.
This could all be coincidence, but at this time last year, the first two events of the season went to Max Homa and Sam Burns, two of the last names off the Ryder Cup list, and I am a firm believer that, in the midst of the grind of life on the PGA Tour, those who are playing for something more than money or even a trophy are often at an advantage.
Hadwin, of course, is a Hughes compatriot, and it was he, not any of the others mentioned, including Fox and Herbert, who was last off Trevor Immelman’s list. Surely, after what Fox and Hughes have done, he will be intent on proving his own point.
Remember, we can never take focus for granted – sometimes players just go through the motions. And when Hadwin finished fourth here in 2019, he mentioned that impressing Ernie Els was at the top of his priority list.
All of this is speculative, but we do know that Hadwin has his conditions. He has three top-10 finishes in six starts here, hitting the ball extremely well and clearly enjoying these greens. He’s shot 59 at PGA West, another California desert course where he’s come close to winning several times. His record in Phoenix isn’t as impressive, but he’s made seven cuts in a row and was a contender for the title back in February.
Fourth place at TPC San Antonio in April adds another layer of substance to an already impressive desert record, and he’s the perfect type for a shootout when everything is firing. On that front, Hadwin returned to hitting quality approaches in his first start in six weeks, finishing 45th, the same spot he filled in the Sanderson Farms last year before returning to Summerlin and stepping up massively for sixth place.
Something similar is expected, and after watching Hughes win to climb from 82nd to 51st in the world, Hadwin will know this is an excellent opportunity not just to prove a point, not just to win his second PGA Tour title, but to climb back into the all-important top 50 and potentially seal a return to Augusta in the coming weeks.
Major winners worth a shot
Martin Laird’s victory here two years ago reminded me that desert form holds up well, which is why I have to give GARY WOODLAND one more shot before the year is out.
I’ve picked the former US Open champion five times this year, and while his best finish has been eighth, he’s shown promise on the whole. That was true in the spring when he competed in Texas (desert golf), but it was also true in the Fortinet Championship on his Silverado debut.
Woodland’s approach play was excellent there, as was his driving last week, when he finished first in strokes-gained off the tee after two rounds at Sanderson Farms, where his irons were also excellent. Short-game issues have limited him to 64th place and a weekend off, and they are a major concern, but he deserves the benefit of the doubt now that he is returning to a course he knows and enjoys.
Three trips to Summerlin result in finishes of 18th, 10th, and 55th, with his approach play in the top ten on the first two and his driving improving with each start. It’s a solid record that includes rounds of 63 and 65 and fits into Woodland’s desert oeuvre; a record of high-level performances on courses similar to this one.
It includes victories in Phoenix and Reno, a play-off loss at PGA West, a ninth-place finish at The Summit Club, and two top-10s in San Antonio, so returning here for the first time in three years makes sense and warrants another wager at 66/1 and higher.
Ben An has a similar track record in the desert, particularly on the DP World Tour, where he has 14 top-15 finishes in 16 starts across the UAE and Qatar. That, combined with the frequency with which he’s competed in Phoenix, marks him down as a potential threat at long odds if he can improve his approach work, which ultimately cost him the Fortinet Championship title three weeks ago.
He’s respected, like Joel Dahmen, and is classier than his odds, but he has serious putting issues, so I’ll go with another former major winner, JASON DAY.
The Australian had a quiet start to the season, missing the cut in the Fortinet, but that was his course debut, and he misfired horribly off the tee, barely hitting a fairway and ranking among the worst drivers. That would be more concerning if he had been driving the ball poorly for some time, but he had gained strokes off the tee in six of his previous seven starts.
In recent years, and even when he was at the pinnacle of the sport, it was Day’s approach play that held him back, and that’s a source of great encouragement as he seeks a return to where he belongs. He’s gained strokes in five starts and was fifth in the field at the halfway mark at Silverado.
Unfortunately, he finished 142nd in putting, and what was once a dependable tenet of his world-class game has become anything but. Still, he has a volatile record with the putter recently, which isn’t a bad thing when it comes to taking a chance on an outsider. Rather than consistently putting slightly worse than the field, he tends to dart around the map, and since he’s historically been very good on bentgrass, I’m willing to bet on improvement there.
It’s also worth noting that he played well at times this summer and early autumn, leading the Wells Fargo at the halfway point, finishing with a 66 at the Rocket Mortgage Classic for a top-20 finish, and then opening with rounds of 67 and 65 in his final two starts. He remains difficult to control, particularly in terms of health, but his best form is still of very high quality, even if it appears only infrequently.
Then there’s Summerlin, where he shot 64-65 for fourth place a decade ago, his second start after a strong debut in 2008. He’s only returned once since, shooting a 68 but missing the cut in 2020, and I believe it’s a good course for Day, who, like Laird, Pampling, and Bryson DeChambeau, has won at Dove Mountain and been runner-up in Qatar in addition to winning at Bay Hill.
Perhaps the Presidents Cup will motivate him as well. When he was injured and missed the 2019 renewal, he came out and finished 16th and fourth in his first two events of 2020 (the Presidents Cup was in mid-December) and was contending for majors by the autumn. Things have gotten worse since then, but his long-term strategy suggests a change of course is on the way.
Knox has an opportunity for a consistent duo
Callum Tarren has a good altitude record and is improving, but at a similar price, I prefer RUSSELL KNOX.
Knox appears to be in the same market position regardless of his game these days, and I believe now is a good time to back him after finishes of 25th and 24th to start the season. I had him at 66/1 here in 2014 when he finished second despite a poor final round, and it was the third time in as many visits that he’d been in contention at a course he enjoys.
Following performances reflect a general decline in his game, but his trademark approach play is now firing on all cylinders, ranking 14th and seventh so far this season after catching the eye at the end of the previous one. Even better, he’s gained strokes with the putter in four of his last five starts, a significant improvement after losing strokes in 13 of his previous 15.
He has a very solid record in Phoenix and three top-20s at PGA West, so I suspect all we need to get him involved again is a handful more fairways and consistency with the putter. The former feels very attainable at a far less daunting course off the tee than those we’ve seen to begin the season, and he looks capable of regaining his place in the mix.
Chris Kirk, KH Lee, and Nick Hardy all have some appeal at high prices but less so at lower ones, and Justin Suh’s performances thus far haven’t been good enough to play the local angle, which I’ll discuss later. Davis Thompson and Riley remain on the radar, but the latter was hopeless off the tee last week, and Thompson may find better opportunities in the future.
As a result, I’ll stick with JAMES HAHN, who has been around the block and back, often against his will, according to his Twitter account.
Hahn’s move into PGA Tour avuncularity has seen him opt for the slightly crazed, ranting version, rather than the one who buys his nephews drinks at family birthdays, who was once the darling of social media thanks to a Gangnam Style dance at the Phoenix Open.
In this volatile game, he can regain popularity by making a strong run at this title, as his long-game is in fantastic shape right now, having driven the ball well for months and producing three top-class displays of approach play in his last five starts, including his seasonal return in California.
Curiously, he gave away nearly six strokes around the green there, just as he did when last seen at Southwind, which makes me wonder if when he lent Viktor Hovland his driver in Mexico late last year, did the Norwegian pay for it with his short game?
Perhaps there’s some underlying issue that I’ll discover while obsessively staring at shot tracker, but these could turn out to be two freakish performances that mask a slew of positives, including a better putting performance in the Fortinet.
If that’s the case, we have a player who finished fifth in a low-scoring 2020 Shriners tournament and then looked like he’d win the Phoenix Open when bursting clear the following February. Hahn was defeated by four strokes, but he had played the final eight holes in four-over par, so he should have won.
Two PGA Tour victories confirm his ability, and fourth at PGA West is another nice form line for a Californian who is more than capable of defying odds of 150/1 – provided he remembers what to do when he misses a green.
Finally, we’ve seen some big performances at big odds from young players over the years, many of whom are familiar with this popular practice venue. Harry Hall was the most recent example a year ago, followed by Suh, A.J. McInerney, and Wise, who was in the mix here as a 20-year-old when he lived in Vegas.
KEVIN YU may not be a local, but he is based in Scottsdale and went to college at Arizona State, so there is certainly a level of comfort in the desert that helped him finish 27th here last year.
Since then, he’s progressed through the Korn Ferry Tour with three top-three finishes from May to August, and before that, we saw what this formerly top-ranked amateur can do at this level when he finished seventh in Puerto Rico. That event happens to correspond well with the Shriners via Laird (sixth), DeChambeau (second), Martin (third), George McNeill (first), and Troy Matteson (second).
Yu has experience at altitude, having lost a play-off in Colorado, and this excellent ball-driver has made a strong start to life as a PGA Tour rookie. It’s early days, but he’s sixth in strokes-gained tee-to-green, seventh off the tee, and would’ve sailed through to the weekend in Napa if his putter had cooperated.
That club improved at Sanderson Farms, where he drove the ball well every day, and his long-game has so far been the most impressive among all Korn Ferry Tour graduates. We don’t know if that will continue, and consistency is something he needs to work on, but this will be the first time he returns to a course where he had a positive experience, hovering near the top of the leaderboard throughout the 2021 renewal.
Yu performed admirably that week, but it was his putter that did the majority of the work, and if he can find another step forward for a second go on these greens, the rest of his game will be right where it needs to be. He has to be worth a dart at odds of 250/1 and higher, having entered the field late on a sponsor invitation.